Airbus' A350 was first envisioned as an update of the A330 medium-long range twin. It is intended to replace the A-340 and compete with Boeing's 777 and 787 series. Airbus claims that it offers up to 7% less cost per seat-mile than its nearest competitor and 15% lower trip cost due to its lighter weight. The weight savings come from the A350's composite skin panels which replace the traditional aluminium. The A350 uses proportionally less composite in its fuselage than the rival 787, having the fuselage frames and stringers remain aluminium rather than the full composite construction of the 787. The wings are full composite structures.
The A350-1000 entered service with launch customer Qatar Airways in February 2018
The kit comes packed in a very sturdy cardboard box with a flip-top lid slipped tightly into Zvezda's traditional flimsy box top. The mouldings are crisp and clean, with very little flash and no sink marks. The fine scribed panel lines are out of scale for 1/144 but will still look good under a coat of paint. The panel lines match up very nicely. The plastic has a slightly satin texture which can be polished out, but which will disappear under the primer paint. It is noticeably smoother than earlier Zvezda kits.
The fuselage is two halves from nose to tail. The cabin windows are open, with clear parts provided for them. The cockpit windows are presented as the traditional Airfix style strip, which some modellers find themselves having difficulty with. The panel lines are nicely engraved and match up well. The APU exhaust is blocked off, and could benefit from being drilled out. If the windows are left open, the interior should be painted black to prevent the model from looking toy-like. There is no full-height cockpit bulkhead to help confine the nose weight, which Zvezda says should be 20g. The nose gear well must be inserted before the fuselage is closed. A nicely furnished cockpit sits on top of the well, which will assist in getting it into exactly the right place. The nose gear leg must be made up and glued into the nose gear well before gluing the fuselage together, rendering it vulnerable to damage for the rest of the build. The antennae are separate, and very finely moulded. Care must be taken when removing them from the sprue gates if they're not to be broken. The kit provides one variant of the now traditional satcom/WIFI antenna fairing used by many airlines. Bra.Z models offers several options if the kit version doesn't suit your subject.
The wings have a one piece lower half comprising a portion of the lower fuselage and the full lower wing. A small portion of the trailing edge is moulded into the upper wing halves. The wings will need a little work to ensure that there is no step in the lower surface. Each wing has 3 two-piece flap track fairings. There is some structural detail in the wheel wells. Some may be added if you wish but they are fairly small, and your work may not be seen. The A350's distinctive swooping winglets are separate parts.
The tailplanes are three piece mouldings. The elevators are moulded separately, making the trailing edges nice and thin. The instructions specify that they droop slightly when the aircraft is parked. The tailplanes have only two small pins to hold them in place.
The engines are quite convincing little models in their own right. They're made up of a seamless intake, two piece interlocking fan, two piece hot section, fan cowls, separate intake ring and a very nice exhaust cone which traps between the rear of the hot section parts. Separate vortex generators attach to the fan cowlings.
The landing gear struts and wheels are finely moulded and nicely detailed. They could use some brake lines and whatever else the modeller likes, but will look good without them. The wheels themselves are properly thick and the detail moulded into the hubs is very good. There is an option for raised gear, and Zvezda's traditional large heavy stand is provided. As with all 1/144 kits, the gear doors are overly thick and may be replaced if the modeller wishes although Zvezda has made an effort to get the door edges thin and they have nice mounting tabs.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like an A350
Decals & Markings
Markings are provided for Airbus' house scheme for the first prototype. The colour callouts on the full-colour markings guide are generic, but sufficient for a beginner to make a convincing model. No window decals are offered for those modellers who prefer them, although silver outlines are offered. Sadly, some are incorporated into the graphics rather than being separate. Modellers wishing to do an airline scheme will need to resort to aftermarket. Since the A350-1000 is a relatively new variant few airlines fly it, but the usual aftermarket companies offer several different schemes. The review kit will be built using Draw Decals' Air Caraibes sheet.
The real thing: The first A350-1000
for Air Caraibes taking off from the Airbus factory airfield.
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